In spite of warnings and recommendations from the CDC, less than a quarter of U.S. sexually active teens get tested for HIV, a disease that is common in their age group. The problem has lingered for a long time, so researchers are looking for potential solutions. More and more teenagers are having sex without a condom, which encourages the spreading of HIV infections.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost 50% of all high school students in the United States have had sex without a condom. Among them, 15% have had sex with at least four sexual partners, where just one third of them have actually been screen for HIV. The CDC data shows that HIV rates have been indeed in decline, but there are still 50,000 new cases diagnosed each year.
And a number of 1 in 4 infections are in people between the ages of 13 and 24 years old. Without proper screening, the issue could only grow more severe. It has been estimated that there are a worrying 25,000 adolescents infected with HIV, but are unaware due to a lack of testing. That could only further encourage the numbers to grow. Those unaware of their infection portray as a much higher risk for spreading it.
Those most vulnerable to the disease are gay or bisexual men, intravenous drug users, and those who have multiple sexual partners. However, all who have had unprotected sex should undergo testing. Without a diagnosis and screening, they will become patients of HIV infections without their knowledge, which will deprive them of proper care and screening. If left unattended, the virus can evolve into AIDS, which is ultimately deadly.
According to the CDC, just 22% of high school students have been tested for HIV, even though there were 10,000 cases of new infections found in their age group in 2014. The rate was found to be at 9 out of 100,000 cases for those 15 to 19 years old, but the numbers gradually grow with age. For those between 20 and 24 years old, they reach over 25 in 100,000, which underlines their study’s point: start testing early on.
The most common age group remains of young adults between the ages of 25 to 29 years old, at a worrying 36 in 100,000, with some rates higher in the aforementioned groups based on sexual preference. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) constantly advised for young adults under the age of 21 years old to get regularly screened for HIV.
The improvement in testing could see to the rate of infection going down. And, it’s achievable.
Through proper sexual education, system-level intervention in clinics, and free testing services covered by insurance, it’s possible to see the numbers decline. Anonymity and affordability are also a few of the barriers among young people that should be eliminated. Parents or people of authority are encouraged to be more open about sexually transmitted diseases and how to prevent them.
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